Thursday, 4 May 2017

My Straightforward Guide for Entering Competitions

Entering competitions is something that I have been doing for many years now and what I would actually consider as a being a hobby of mine.

As the saying goes - 'You've got to be in it to win it', so bear that in mind if you feel like there is absolutely no point or your thinking ' I never win anything'.

If the giveaway is free to enter, which most online draws are, then exactly what have you got to lose?
- Nothing! I tell you.

My must-do's to stand a better chance of winning when entering competitions.
First up, I'd like to produce the evidence (and just to clarify, we are not about to crack some kind of 'Sherlock' case) that you can be the winning entry picked from thousands with my bullet-point list of some of the prizes that I have won in the past:
  • Hand signed Justin Bieber CD album.
  • 'Maximum Pop' Christmas bundle containing film and book merchandise.
  • Selena Gomez concert tickets (pictured).
  • The Last Song film advertisement poster (the massive ones that you see in the cinema foyers).
  • Olly Murs CD album.
  • Miley Cyrus concert tickets.
  • Once Upon a Time (previously aired on Channel 5, now its Netflix) series 1 DVD, notepad and kindle case.
  • Autographed Union J Christmas card. 
  • Diversity concert tickets + meet and greet with group photo opportunity and autographed photo (pictured).
  • Monte Carlo film memorabilia. 
  • Usher concert tickets (pictured).
  • 'Tyrrells Poshcorn' (popcorn bags in various flavours - x1 pictured).
  • Rio 2 film merchandise. 
  • 'Higgidy' lunch bag and food (letter pictured).
  • Britney Spears concert tickets.
  • The Saturdays t-shirt + hand signed 'Nintendogs' DS game.
  • Miranda, The Inbetweeners + Micky Flanagan DVD box sets (letter pictured).
  • 'Burt's Bees' cosmetics bundle (letter pictured).
  • £40 Amazon voucher.
  • 'Canon' Camera (received through sending in a celebrity snap to a magazine that they chose to publish).
  • Disney Channel's Shake It Up meet and greet with photo opportunity (pictured) and goody bag.
  • Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie merchandise.
  • Hand signed Craig David promo CD (pictured).
  • Numerous fictional books (x1 pictured).
  • 'Chewits' sweets packet selection. 
  • The Paul O'Grady Show nodding 'Olga' (pictured).
  • Harry Potter colouring books.
  • McFly concert tickets + meet and greet with photo and autograph opportunities:
    I wrote a letter on why I should win and sent over a drawing that I had sketched of the drummer, Harry.

    I would like to clearly state that all of the above has been won over approximately the past five years and was not obtained through my blog in any way.

    There will, of course, be moments of disappointment when missing out, but hey, think of how great you'll feel when you do get that winning notification!
I lost out on getting myself a pair of tickets to watch boy band, The Wanted, live in concert from the golden zone. This was a slightly embarrassing situation as it was through a local radio station and I was live on air. The answer to the question I was asked wasn't general knowledge and you just had to guess, which did make me feel a teeny bit better for not getting it right.

Now, onto what I believe are useful in knowing when entering competitions...

Via Twitter and Facebook -
1.) Make sure that you have followed, retweeted and 'liked' the page to make your entry count, as almost all brands have this as a requirement for their giveaways.
2.) Increase your chances by leaving a comment on the competition post.
3.) Read the instructions, rules and terms and conditions (if any), such as only one entry per household, otherwise you could be disqualified.
Plus, numbers 2 and 3 are also useful to remember when entering competitions on other websites that are not on social media.

Through the Mail -
1.) Use bright postcards or eye-catching designs to write your contact details and answer (if compulsory) on that will stand out from other postal entries.
2.) Have a set of stamps put by, so that you can get your entry sent ASAP.
3.) Look that the address you are sending to has been written down correctly (the same goes for when sending emails).
4.) Check the closing date to make sure that your entry will get to the destination before it shuts.
5.) Write neatly.

Live on-Air -
1.) Save the stations phone number before the draw opens so that it will be easier to hit redial.
2.) Find out if there is a charge as you don't want to be met with a gigantic bill.
3.) Stay away from the active radio when on the phone as it has been known to interfere with the line.
4.) You will obviously be mega excited if you get through to speak to the presenter(s), but remember, talk clearly and avoid any background noise.

Through Mobile -
1.) Again, find out about any unknown costs.
2.) A lot of the time you can only enter once, so don't do multiple entries.
3.) Be aware of what details you need to include in the message and re-read before pressing send.
4.) Listen / look out for a closing date and time.

Well, there you have it! 
Follow this advice and you never know what spectacular prize you could secure.

Best of luck! 
No matter if it was big or small, what have you won?
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Monday, 10 April 2017

What I Learnt From... Getting Through Life's Challenges - Part Two

Taking up from where I left off in my other 'Getting Through Life's Challenges' post some months back, I've put together an additional five tips that I stick to in order to get the most out of my waking hours.


The follow-up to what I learnt from getting through life's challenges.
Full credit goes to the framed images original designer.

1.) Socialising.
Phone, text, email, write a letter, there are so many ways to keep in contact with the people you that you want to, no matter what their location. I try not to leave it more than a week without chatting to two of my dearest friends, who are now in their seventies. A conversation with them puts my mind at rest from knowing that they are okay. Usually, I will also scroll through my mobile looking at who I might not of heard from for some time, which will then prompt me to send over a text or Internet message so that person is aware that I am thinking of them.

2.) Keep Active.
Okay, so I understand if there is an absolute downpour of rain outside that the last thing you would want to do is leave the dry comfort you are currently in, but this doesn't mean that you have to be a couch potato for the entire day. If you own a games console like a Wii, pick up the remote and get your body moving along to the feel-good variety of tracks to choose from on 'Just Dance', for example. It is so much fun - especially with your best bud! An exercise DVD, the use of a hula-hoop or skipping are other examples of fitness that can be accomplished indoors.

3.) Write It Down.
Trust me when I say that bottling it up will only make things worse. There will come a point, like when a bottle of fizz is shaken up, that it will all come pouring out. Scribble what has upset or agitated you onto a piece of paper, or better still, talk to someone about it, even if it is a specialist. Let the heavy pile of sand you've been carrying in your shoes for quite some time just crumble away, like when it gets wet on the beach and is then flattened by the sea.

4.) Distance Yourself from Negativity.
If hearing about crime stories in the news unsettles you, switch the TV channel over, turn down the radio's volume, or skip those articles in the newspaper. On the other hand, when it's a friend who has the tendency to unleash their worries on you, kindly let them know how it affects your mood. Maybe agree to give them five minutes to inform you of their worries and then change the subject. You could do the same, but make it clear that you shouldn't be doing this on every interaction that you have with them. Soon after, you will hopefully see a difference and find that you are speaking less about those bothering things.

5.) Do What You Love.
Magic tricks, acting, space fanatic? Whatever you like spending your free time doing, carry on. As long as you enjoy it and it's not hurting anyone or yourself physically, you shouldn't feel the need to stop. If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you will very well know that I have a passion for the British band, McFly. When I was in my teens at school I got teased a fair bit for being a fan, but not listening to their music would've caused unnecessary misery for me, so I continued to do so.

Let me know if you do any of these listed already, or what has worked for you?
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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Being A True Fan of McFly Looks Something Like This

'Beliebers', 'Lovatics', 'KatyCats'... You have probably read or heard at a minimum about one of these fan bases that link to a certain singers following.

Even though I am fond of Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato and Katy Perry, I mostly consider myself  to be a 'Galaxy Defender'.

No, I am not a space enthusiast; this is simply the name given to us fans of the British man band, McFly.

It is incredible how one or more individuals who you don't know personally can make such a positive impact on your life, may it be through their music, films or something else.
Multiple posts of mine in the past have noted my adoration for McFly, however I want to express what results in being a part of a celebrity backing. You might already have the answers, if you yourself idolise a famous name(s). We are likely to have things in common, but definitely some different stories. 
 Here is a short history on mine. 
Please understand that I would never want this post to come across as bragging. 
 This was written purely to give an insight into what is involved with being a celebrity's long-term fan.

The Discovery:
My dad had got hold of four tickets to a concert that had a mixed line-up of musical artists taking to the stage, one of them being, McFly. I was ten at the time and even though most of the acts performed just a couple of songs each this was enough for me to find a likeness for these fresh-faced newcomers.

On my next birthday my parents presented me with 'Room on the 3rd Floor' - the foursomes debut album, which to no surprise I had playing on repeat through my CD stereo. This was the same with their next album 'Wonderland', which then a month later was followed by my second time seeing McFly live, but for over an hour! 

I know that it isn't just me who feels that as a fan you must buy their every single, album, DVD etc ever released in order to fully confirm your support. Although *shock* I still don't own every single CD (I regularly search the web and boot fairs for those that I am missing) it doesn't mean that I didn't like that particular piece. 

What I do own would be considered as a lot, most though are stored away neatly, with a few of my favourite items on display, such as an autographed tour book signed to me. 

Personal Experiences:
Gosh, in all honesty there are so MANY of these, too many to actually list. Stand-out moments for me include watching the band play live from the front row at a location not far from my home, my mum catching Harry's drumstick, then getting him to sign it at a later event, plus him recognising me at another.

Receiving hugs numerous times from each member is always nice, as is engaging in conversation with them, even though a lot of those have been random. For example, Harry and Tom singing the 'Funky Pigeon' slogan from the advert to me because I'd given them a handmade card. Danny once sung to me too, at a concert where I was situated in the second row. Then there was another happening when Dougie decided to doodle a vampire cartoon onto my guitar at a meet and greet before a gig.
Time, Miles and Dedication:
None of the above has been obtained easily. This has been ongoing since 2004. I actually waited seven years to meet the band properly, where I could speak to them for more than a few seconds and get a photo with them.

It has involved a lot of hours making plans, travelling around the UK and perseverance. For many of the events I was still quite young to be attending by myself and I totally realise that I was very lucky that my mum or dad, or both, would take me. 

The Ups and the Downs:
To this day with signings, meet and greets, concerts and other events I have seen McFly almost forty times in total, but please note that is spread over thirteen years.

It hasn't all been plain sailing. For instance, missing out on meeting the band (I came third in a competition where there was only first and second prizes) or seeing other fans meet them several times when you haven't is deflating.

There are some brilliant pluses though, such as keeping in contact with other fans who I have chatted with at past events and to be able to look back at the countless of photo's I have from those.

Due to not being in the best of health and more recently, because of unfitting venue locations, I haven't seen Danny, Dougie, Tom or Harry since 2015 when I had been discharged from hospital the previous week and they were touring as McBusted.

Like with everything there are good and bad bits, but to say that 98% of mine have been good is pretty awesome. Even if I never get the opportunity to meet McFly again I am forever thankful for all of the experiences that I have had.

What famous face(s) do you look up to?
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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

I've Got My Ticket... The Full Monty Live Show

I can't call to mind any film or television show about male strippers that most heterosexual blokes would be even the slightest bit comfortable with watching
- Well, other than The Full Monty.

There really aren't many moving pictures out there that have its viewer chuckling at almost every scene, but I can say, hand on heart, that for me, this one does.

As I write this prior to seeing this stage version I am thinking that the cast has got a LOT to live up to!

Show Name: The Full Monty
Venue: The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
Performance Dates: Monday 20th – Saturday 25th February 2017
Starring: Chris Fountain, Gary Lucy, Andrew Dunn, Louis Emerick, Anthony Lewis, Kai Owen
Writer: Simon Beaufoy
Director: Jack Ryder

Brief Information:   
First released for TV viewing in 1997, this comedy-filled story focuses on the lives of six recently unemployed steelworkers who currently have no earnings coming in and are struggling. Pennies aside, they each also suffer from their own different personal worries, which include depression, homosexuality and body image issues.

When it is first suggested by an individual member of the men that they could all get a nice cash sum from putting on a striptease in a building often used by the locals, the others look of response, as you can imagine, is of absolute horror.

Soon however, scheduled dance rehearsals, velcro-attire and a few bumps and bruises follow: as does, for one night only, the bare skin of these ordinary men being made public for all to see... but only if you have purchased a ticket!

My Opinion:
The first impression that I got from the opening scene was straight away very good indeed. Gary Lucy, who is best known for his acting roles in ‘Footballers’ Wives’ and ‘The Bill’ evidently displayed all of the right mannerisms to take on the role of ‘Gaz’ with perfection. His co-star Kai Owen, from where I was sitting, not only sounded like his character Dave, but looked the spitting image of him too.

Accompanied by Nathan, a young lad and the son of Gaz, the close friends were already in a spot of bother just minutes in when an attempt at stealing scrap materials from an old warehouse issued multiple lights to spark. Then, of all the people to walk in and catch the duo committing a crime was the mother of Nathan and ex partner of Gaz, validating that these two didn’t seem to have much luck with their plans, and also that this production was going to be anything but boring.

What did you like?
During a play of the groovy song ‘You Sexy Thing’ by Hot Chocolate are a few very dodgy hip thrusts from Gaz, all in full view of Nathan. Setting things straight, the boy comically gives his dad the harsh reality that to go ahead with this dance project of his, he is going to need training.

I didn’t have to wait much longer for more foot-tapping music, as this came with the energetic movements of ‘Horse’, an older man auditioning to be part of the one-off strippers gang, who automatically gives the impression that he is hardly fit for even walking… That is until he breaks into ‘The Mash Potato’ dance!

Along with the audience I found amusement with almost every section of the show. The script has the same amount of swear words as the film (more than I can count on the fingers of both my hands). Normally I would disapprove, but somehow this use of bad language still caused obvious laughter, which is often extremely difficult to do.

The duration of the show really did speed by, and you know what they say: “Time flies when you’re having fun!” – Which the whole auditorium and I certainly did. And yes, just to confirm, the six do in reality, remove all of their kit (though, the most you will get to see are their naked backsides).

What would you change?
Reverting back to the film, nearing towards the end there is a scene where the group of men does a practice run in front of some unknown ladies, one being a matured elder. On stage a single woman around the thirty-year mark was brought in and this remake of that particular clip just wasn’t as humorous.

My rating out of five:

Find out more about The Full Monty Live Show, including ticket prices and performance times:
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Tuesday, 7 February 2017

My Seven Winter Must-Haves

"Brrr!" is all I can say if asked about the weather in England recently.

Just thinking about those harsh outdoor winds sends a shiver down my spine, even though writing this I am nicely wrapped up in the soft material of my dressing gown. I am wearing day clothes I might add, not my pyjamas - Although this won't be the only mention of my night attire, because right now I want to tell you about the little things that perk me up whenever the temperature plummets.

So, here are My Seven Winter Must-Haves.

Heated Puddings:
Where else better to start than with food glorious food?
Call me weird but cold custard straight out of the fridge on its own to me is something that I think tastes glorious. However, most people have this yellowy loveliness as the topping on a warm sponge, which is even BETTER.

Chocolate, treacle, jam, whatever flavour or filling you settle on, they are all incredibly tasty and comforting on a cold night sitting on the settee. If you prefer an alternative to custard then you have a choice of creams too - squirty, runny or iced.

Keep a look out for offers in the supermarkets. My mum returned from Poundland a couple of weeks ago with a two-pack of Jane Asher's Kitchen Christmas Puddings reduced down to 50p and paid 35p for a pair of Cadbury Milk Chocolate Puddings.

Keeping Warm:
From one hot luxury to another. 
Two years back we were thrilled to have a wood burner fitted in our home, and not only does this let out great warmth, but it is really lovely to look at as well. I just picture myself reading a book or drinking a hot chocolate with marshmallows and it is such an idyllic scene.

It is expensive to have the heating on full all of the time, so an electric heater or a hot water bottle might be a better option if you live alone or with another individual and that's it.

Classic Games:
Grab Monopoly, Battleship or a pack of cards for an hour or more of enjoyment away from all digital devices. Then all you need are a few bowls of nibbles and some hot drinks and you have an almost-free social get-together. 

We pretty much always take playing cards away with us on holiday as you never know when a power cut is about to happen - Plus you can't go wrong with a game of Snap!

Luxury Sleepwear:
When purchasing winter pyjamas they have to be cosy and cute! (Well, that's what I go for anyway).
Floral, leopard print, deer illustrated and a decorated caption are all what feature on the sets that I currently own.

Remember that no PJ's are complete without thick socks or slippers either.
How welcoming does this reindeer-inspired design look?

Hydrated Skin:
Getting older has made me realise how important it is to look after my skin. 
Whether, its body, face or hands, dryness can appear on all of these places. I repeatedly carry a lip balm with me to prevent cracked lips, not just in the winter. 

It wasn't too long ago that I discovered the brand Nip Fab who really do live up to their name. I apply a small amount of the company's Deep Cleansing Fix under my eyes and to my forehead before going to sleep and by morning it has disappeared. This products tub is huge, so I am sure that it will last me a long while yet.

Grab the Remote:
I've posted numerous times about what I have been watching on the television at that certain moment in time. You can see these here, here, here and well, here!

Although I like to tune into scheduled programmes, TV box sets are a great solution for when you might only have 30 minutes to spare. My most preferred though when it is dark and dingy is a film - Something upbeat and that includes lot's of sunshine in its footage.

How do you bear up in the winter?
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